Hard To Explain This One

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you’re six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
Oscar Hammerstein

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I’m a white male who is a practicing Catholic. I went to Catholic grammar and high school. I was an altar boy for many years as well as a member of the CYO. So on many levels this story is embarrassing, disappointing and sad.

Last week, there was a high school basketball game played in New Jersey between Atlantic City High School, which has a very diverse population and Holy Spirit Catholic High School. While both teams have some white players, the majority of players are African-American. During the course of the game, in what was described as “team spirit”, Holy Spirit students hung a curtain on the floor, just behind the basket. Whenever an Atlantic City player went to the foul line, they opened a curtain to reveal two students dressed up as a monkey and a banana, taunting the African-American players who were shooting the foul shots. They proceeded to jump and dance in close proximity to the players on the court, or the monkey held the banana in his arms.

Think that’s bad? There’s more.

A Holy Spirit School official acknowledged the conduct violated league rules for sportsmanship and said it would not happen again but that no students would be punished because of the incident, according to the athletic director.He said, “I’m not going to kick anyone out of school or whip anybody. All I can do is apologize, I can’t take it back. The punishment is that it will not happen again. Really? That it will not happen again is a punishment?  How will our children ever learn?

The coach from Holy Spirit had this to say, “There’s absolutely nothing that was intended to be racial whatsoever. it was a group of kids trying to have fun with something they saw on television. There was no malice there whatsoever. If anyone wants to make it out to be that, it’s not. We have a respectable school community. We have four out of five starter  that are African-American kids. That’s not what this was about. It was just kids thinking through what their perception should be, but there was absolutely nothing racial and somebody is making something racial about it.” So having African-American players on your team justifies this type of action? 

So if there was nothing wrong with this, why were the referees reprimanded, the students warned and “punished” and officials from Holy Spirit issuing apologies?
If this is a kids being kids excuse, which I’m tired of hearing, where were the adults to explain the insensitivity. How did they get into a gym wearing these costumes? Why didn’t the refs stop it immediately instead of letting it continue? Why didn’t school officials step in and someone with an ounce of intelligence suggest that this isn’t the image they want the school to project for their “respectable school community.”? At the very least, these students were in violation of multiple Spectator Code of Conduct rules governing high school sports in the state. And yet not one adult, stepped in and said, this is wrong. Not one. How sad and pathetic is that?

So these Catholic school officials didn’t see anything wrong with this action, huh? Just kids having fun? Well, let me be as harsh as I can be here since we’re using the kids being kids excuse and the adults seem to be clueless.

I wonder how the school officials from Holy Spirit would have reacted if a couple of Atlantic City High School students dressed up as a priest and ten-year old boy and the priest was holding the boy in his arms and dancing with him.

Not so funny now, is it? Need me to elaborate further on insensitivity?

No, I didn’t think so.



6 thoughts on “Hard To Explain This One

  1. Mott

    Holy Spirit High School’s Dean, Fr. Perry Cherubini, offered an apology and is taking steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Athletic Director Jay Connell, though, issued a statement that no one would be punished. I attended a Catholic boy’s prep and never recall a lay faculty member ever contradicting or minimizing a policy statement put out by the administration. Who does this guy think he is?


    1. George Post author

      I agree. Like you I attended a Carholic boys prep school in NJ and this type of disconnect or lack of understanding would never have happened. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the school itself or a sign of the times. Or…he’s trying to save his job and justify his lack of control over the students.



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